Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Damien Mason from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Damien Mason

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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  Damien Mason

If you are really interested in people and have good interpersonal skills, you will find this job very rewarding.

Like a lot of jobs, you will not be using all the theoretical knowledge you gained in University or College, but you will develop significant management potential and the environment is stimulating and rewarding.

As an engineer, you will probably spend about 50% of your time in the office, and the other 50% out in the plant.

You should also expect that you may be asked if you are willing to travel abroad. This would be very attractive to most people, and a definite means to gain great experience, but it may not suit everyone.

You should ideally be a balanced person, someone with a good deal of technical knowledge, but also a good ability to deal with people.

Responsibility and challenges will be given to you from day one, and if you can handle the pressure, you will gain more and more responsibilities, ultimately leading you to gain invaluable experience, and undoubtedly onto a successful management position.

With the global nature of ICL's parent company CRH, this could be yours in Ireland or one of many countries worldwide.


Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Adrian Collins - Physics Researcher

What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?

My background in applied physics and instrumentation really defined the rest of my career. A degree in physics not only teaches you about physics, but also teaches you about critical thinking and problem solving. Those formative years learning physics and how real science is performed has undoubtedly shaped the rest of my career.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

Typically I’ll say my parents have been my biggest influence. Not in a direct way, but more in a supportive way to allow me to find what I’m interested in.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Yes. A work -life balance is very important. I’m a very sporty person so my work needs to allow me to pursue that too, which thankfully it does!

How did you go about getting your current job?

I don’t believe in luck, I believe that hard work will give you certain opportunities and it’s up to you to take them. I got to my current position by being in the right place at the right time. Getting to that right place is all about hard work.

Describe a typical day?

My current position is a mixture of research and the development of education materials for teaching science. So I really don’t have a typical day. I work on various projects at the same time. Each project requires lots of work and lots of meetings so each day is a new and interesting experience.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

Research is my main passion. This requires careful development of experiments, designing equipment, carrying out experiments, data analysis and most importantly documentation. Every researcher is responsible for each step in the process.

What are the main challenges?

Funding is always a major challenge. Trying to figure out to how fund your research is a difficult but necessary part of my job.

What’s cool?

Some of the coolest parts of my job include figuring stuff out, large data sets, stuff not making sense and eventually solving a problem and making your project or research work.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

Problem solving and analytical thinking are two of my main skills that I bring to the workplace.

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

Physics, engineering, maths and English have probably been most influential in my career. English may seem out of place, but effective communication is vitally important for an effective researcher. It’s great to be able to figure out some cool new technology, but without the ability to tell others effectively, your discovery is very limited.

What is your education to date?

An honours Bachelor of Science in Computerised Instrument Systems and a Ph.D. in Applied Physics and Instrumentation is my education to date.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

Problem solving, critical thinking and effective communications are the key aspects of my education that have proven the most important for my job.

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

Publishing peer reviewed papers is key for any researcher. They act as a milestone for your research as well as a vital moment where you can share your work. These moments are the most rewarding of my career to date.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?

Having a cool head, being an analytical thinker and having an inherent interest in how stuff works helps greatly in my career.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

I think for any job it’s important to talk to the people who are actually working in the field.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

Perseverance, interest, and enthusiasm are the most important characteristics required for the job.

Article by: Smart Futures